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Psalm 91 - Part Four
January 2013

            Last month we finished our study by saying that once you make the Lord your refuge and the Most High your dwelling place, the Lord will preserve you from evil.  The believer that dwells “in” the Most High will find preservation “from” dangers, “in” dangers, and “by” dangers.  Believers must realize that God never promised that you would never see trouble; but the promise is that when troubles come He will deliver you and see you through them.  We noted that dependence on Christ is the prerequisite for preservation.

            In Psalm 91:11-16 the Psalmist tells us how God will preserve us, in how many troubles He will preserve us, and in what way He will preserve us.  Next the psalmist tells us why God will preserve us through them and the rewards the preserved will receive.  Notice: 

            Psalm 91:11-16, For He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You in all Your ways. They shall bear You up in their hands, lest You dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread on the lion and adder; the young lion and the jackal You shall trample underfoot. Because He has set His love on Me, therefore I will deliver Him; I will set Him on high, because He has known My name. He shall call on Me, and I will answer Him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver Him, and honor Him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.

            Now let us look at the specifics of our preservation and the resulting rewards.

            The how is:                                          He shall give His angels charge over you.

            The how many is:                                In “All” your ways.

            The way is:                                          You will “tread,” and “trample,” all the enemies attempts to destroy you.

            The why is:                                          The three “Because” clauses (starting in verse nine).

                                                                        1.         Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my                                                                                           refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; (Verse 9).

                                                                        2.         Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore                                                                                             will I deliver him: I will set him on high, (Verse 14a).

                                                                        3.         Because he hath known My name; (Verse 14b).

            The rewards are:                                  1.         He will set us on high.                                                                         2.         He will answer us.                                                                         3.         He will be with us.                                                                         4.         He will deliver us.                                                                         5.         He will honor us.                                                                                                         6.         He will give us long life.                                                                         7.         He will satisfy us.                                                                                                                                           8.         He will allow us to see His salvation.

God tells us that He will give His angels charge over your protection and preservation.  Two important facts are here for us to see. 

  1. The protection promised by God is a “Personal protection.”  The “you” is emphatic in this verse. Emphatic means it is expressed with emphasis.  It has an intensified marking in the text, and that it should be specially noted.  God will give His angels charge over “YOU.”  This assures us that nothing can touch a child of God, except by God’s permission. A child of God is so protected if he is one that has set his love upon Him and is making the Most High his refuge.  It also assures us that no enemy, spiritual or physical will escape God’s retribution when they try to invade our fellowship with God.
  2. The second promise is that it is a “Miraculous Protection.”  God is not talking about one angel here, even though one is probably more then enough.  Notice, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all your ways,” but angels (plural).  In 2nd Kings 19 we see that one angel was sent to help protect the children of God and that one angel killed eighty-five thousand Assyrians.  In Psalm 91:11 God is not giving one of these most powerful of beings a charge to protect “YOU”, but more then one.  The sending of more than one angel or this overwhelming show of power and force is so that God’s children are not merely survivors but are more than victorious.  We are God’s chosen who tread on, and trample their enemies under foot.  Remember “we are more then conquerors through Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:37).

            It is important to note one more thing about this personal and miraculous protection.  It comes with a warning!  After Jesus had spent forty days in the wilderness fasting and praying, the devil arrives and tempts Christ.  In Matthew 4:6 the devil recited this verse to Jesus in an attempt to stir up arrogance.  However, you will notice that the devil left out a phrase when he quoted this verse.  Psalm 91:11 says, For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all your ways.”  In Matthew 4:6 the devil said to Jesus; "He shall give His angels charge concerning you.”  Do you see what is missing?  That’s right, “to keep you in all your ways.”  What were Jesus’ ways?  Jesus put it this way, “I can do nothing of My own self. As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who has sent Me.”  In other words, God’s angels are charged to protect you and will do so, as long as you keep in the way of your duty in Christ.  It is not for those who are rebels, who “go where angels dare not.”  God’s personal and miraculous protection is for those who walk in the ways of the Lord. 

            One last note, it is characteristic of God that angelic help will come when strength for service and sacrifice are needed (cf. Matthew 4:11: Luke 22:43).  It will never come for ones self-advantage or self-edification (Matthew 26:53~).  And just like the devil tempting Jesus to become arrogant because angels were with Him protecting Him in whatever work He was called to do, so will the devil do to every saint of God.  Therefore beware pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

            Psalm 91:12 clearly declares how the angels will watch over us.  It states that the angels “shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.  The angels bearing us up in their hands denote both their great ability and strength and their great affection toward us.  They are able to bear the saints up above all dangers, and they do so with all the care and tenderness wherewith a mother carries a new born child.  At the same time the humbleness of their ministry is shown because they also keep the feet of the saints unless they stumble and fall into sin and into trouble.

            There are two opposing thoughts here that should be noticed.  On the one hand the angels will bear the saints above, out of the reach of any demonic influences, and on the other hand the feet of the saints will tread and trample on these same demonic forces.  How do we rectify this seeming inconsistency?  We are all aware that the devil is called a roaring lion, the old serpent, and the red dragon; so that to this promise the apostle Paul seems to refer in that the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet with quickness” (Romans 16:20).  Christ has already broken the serpent’s head, and thwarted all our spiritual enemies plans (Colossians 2:15), and through Christ we are more than conquerors: for Christ calls us as Joshua called the captains of Israel, to come and set our feet on the necks of the vanquished enemies, so over and through all Satan’s forces and frauds we shall march as conquerors, for Jesus Christ has won the victory for us.  It is up to us then to walk in that victory. 

            The strongest of enemies, the most cunning of all God’s creation can not stand before the man of God who walks in the way of the Lord.  Why, because our enemy has already been conquered!  To all men who dwell in God, the most evil forces become harmless.  These men bear the sign of ultimate victory, and defy the deadliest ills.  Their feet come into contact with the worst of enemies, even Satan himself can only but nibble at their feet, but in Christ Jesus they have the assured hope of crushing Satan under their feet quickly.  The people of God are the real lion-kings and serpent-tamers.  Their dominion over the powers of darkness makes them cry, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through your word” (Luke 10:17).

            Who are the beneficiaries of this divine protection?  They belong to the saints of God that are described by three characteristics in Psalm 91:14-15.

  1. They are such as have set their love upon Him; and those who rightly know Him will love Him, will place their love upon Him as the only adequate object of it (verse 14a).  They are those that fix their love upon Him with a resolution never to remove it to any rival.  Notice that the verse does NOT say because thou art without sin or, because thou have perfectly kept thy commandments or, because he has merit or worth.  It does say, and notice this carefully, “Because he [the saint of God] hath set his love upon me” [God].  This one and only qualification for the blessing of God comes through something that every human being possesses, and that is love!  We place our love upon God and God then grants us these blessings.
  2. They are such as know God’s name (verse 14b).  What exactly does that entail? E. W. Kenyon began his book “The Wonderful Name of Jesus” with this personal account: “One afternoon, while giving an address on “The Name of Jesus” a lawyer interrupted me, asking: “Do you mean to say that Jesus gave us the “Power of Attorney’ the Legal Right to use His Name?”  I said to him, “Brother, you are a lawyer and I am a layman.  Tell me-did Jesus give us the Power of Attorney?”  He said, “If language means anything, then Jesus gave the church the Power of Attorney.”  Then I asked him, “What is the value of this Power of Attorney?”  He answered, “It depends upon how much there is behind it, how much authority, how much power this Name represents.”  “Then I began to search to find how much power and authority Jesus had.”  Should we not as children of God do the same? 

All the power and all the authority that Jesus had is invested in His Name!  The question is, do we have the Power of Attorney to use His Name, and do we really know how much power and authority Jesus has?  Kenyon finished up by saying that “the measure of His ability [the measure of the ability of the Lord Jesus Christ] is the measure of the value of that Name, and all that is invested in that name belongs to us, for Jesus gave us the unqualified use of His Name.  Question:  What is the limit of God’s name?  (Ref. Matthew 19:26; Mark 9:23, 10:27)

3.      They are such as call upon Him, in prayer (verse 15a).  They keep up a constant correspondence with Him, and in every difficult case refer themselves to Him.  This goes back to the first characteristic we discussed.  How can we call upon Him in prayer if we do not know His name?  How can we call upon Him in prayer if we do not know His authority and power?  How can we expect to call upon Him in times of trouble if we do not call upon Him in times of rest and peace?  How can we call upon Him if we do not know Him at all?  Only those that set their love upon Him will be able to call upon Him and expect results!  Knowing God is so much different then knowing about Him is it not?  Think back to what Jesus said to the lawyers of the law.  “You examine the Scriptures carefully because you suppose that in them you have eternal life. Yet they testify about me. But you are not willing to come to me to have life. "I do not accept human praise. I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me. Yet if another man comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept each other's praise and do not look for the praise that comes from the only God” (John 5:39-44)?  Knowing God only comes through communion with Him.  Nothing new is being said here; but Oh how important it is to keep it stored up in ones heart and memory.  Do we remember the first three verses of this great Psalm?  They read “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.”  All these blessings are a result of knowing God, communication with Him, dwelling in Him and abiding with Him.  One can not know about Him and expect the same abundant favors that a true loving son is privy to.  Communication with Him is prayer.  Prayer consists of four aspects.

      So what exactly are these four aspects of prayer (Pros-yoo-khom-ahee)? This Creek word, Translated “Prayer”, denotes essentially forward motion or a motion towards.  The connotation is to draw near with respect, reverence and worship.  Prayer means to make supplication and requests in total humility with submission.  These four aspects are:

 

1.      CONVERSING WITH GOD:    Praise, Worship and Waiting (listening) are conversing (Psalm 27:14; 100:4; 150:1-6; Revelation 4:6-11).

2.      COMMUNICATION WITH GOD:   Communication is you speaking to someone and that someone speaking back to you, both listening to the other. EXAMPLES:   Moses on Sinai (Exodus 20) Joshua at Jericho (Joshua 1:1-10), All the prophet’s messages (Isaiah 59:9; John 8:47).

3.      COMMUNION WITH GOD:   You and God fellowshipping one with another as intimate lovers (John 15:7, Romans 8:26-27, 1st Corinthians 10:16, 2nd Corinthians 13:14, Revelation 3:20).     

4.      COOPERATION WITH GOD:   Two or more individuals working together to accomplish a common task (Matthew 7:7, Romans 8:26-27, Philippians 4:13).

 

            Finally let us look at the other promises that will come to a child of God who sets his love upon God, and who knows God’s name.

            1.         He (God) will set them on high (verse 14)

            That is, in that place which is inaccessible and to lofty for the enemies of God to come, there is a lot of safety in the knowledge of God, in His attributes, and in His Christ.  A saint’s safety comes from running into the tower which is Christ (Psalm 59:16-17).  I will set him on high or I will exalt him, and so he shall be safe.  When saints truly know God to be a deliverer, they both put confidence in Him, and call upon Him and then God exalts and delivers them.

            2.         He will call upon Me (God) and I will answer him (verse 14)

            Notice the relationship between those that know His name and call upon Him.  The relationship is connected, like links in a chain.  If you know My name, you will call upon Me.  The blessing is in the fact that when you call upon God He WILL answer.  The word “WILL,” is emphatic.  There is no doubt that He will answer.  There is a great sense of peace in knowing that God will answer your prayers!  Then my advice is that we should, without hesitation, call upon the name of the Lord.  This must be critically important to a child of God because God commands us to Pray without ceasing” (1st Thessalonians 5:17).  OK preacher, wait a minute, how is that possible?  No one can do that!  I beg to differ! “Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23).  If praying without ceasing was not possible then why would God instruct us to do it?  So the question then becomes, how can one pray without ceasing? 

A number of ministers were assembled for a discussion of difficult biblical questions; among them was the question, how do we pray without ceasing?  Can this command of our Lord ever be complied with?  Various suppositions were started, and after a long discussion one of the ministers were appointed to write an essay upon it, to be read at the next monthly meeting.  This being overheard by a female servant, she exclaimed, "What – A whole month waiting to tell the meaning of that text!  It is one of the easiest and best texts in the Bible."  Well – Said the old minister. "Young lady what can you tell us about it?  Let us know how you understand it.  Can you pray all the time?"  "Oh yes sir!"  "What!  When you have so many things to do?"  "Why, sir, the more I have to do, the more I can pray."  "Indeed!  Well, Young lady, do let us know how it is; for most people think otherwise."  "Well, sir," said the girl, "when I first open my eyes in the morning, I pray, "Lord, open the eyes of my understanding; and, while I am dressing, I pray that I may be clothed with the robe of righteousness; and, when I have washed myself, I ask for the washing of regeneration; and, as I begin to work, I pray that I may have strength equal to my day, and, as I sweep out the house, I pray that my heart may be cleansed from all its impurities; and, while preparing and partaking of breakfast, I desire to be fed with the hidden manna and the sincere milk of the word; and, as I am busy with the little children, I look up to God as my father, and pray for the spirit of adoption, that I may be His child:  and so on all day.  Everything I do furnishes me with a thought for prayer."  "Enough, enough!" cried the old minister:  "these things are revealed to babes, and often hid from the wise and prudent."  "Go on Young lady," said he, "pray without ceasing; and as for us, my brethren, let us bless the Lord for this exposition, and remember that He has said; The meek will He guide in judgment."  After this little event, the essay was not considered necessary.  Maybe it is time to stop questioning what God tells us to do and just do what he says!

            3.         He (God) will be with us in trouble (verse 15)

            God has made a special promise that in times of trouble He will personally be with us.  Previously we read that the angels were charged with the task of protecting us.  But here just like a tender-hearted mother towards a sickly child, God personally attends to us.  He tells the angels to tend to someone else and He comes to us. He comforts us.  He kisses our brow.  He hears our cries and attends to our ills.  So God says to His sickly child, But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.  When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.  For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior” (Isaiah 43:1-3).

            4.         I will deliver him (verse 15)

In essence, God is saying that for his good I may permit him to be tested for a time, but delivered he shall be.  Not because he deserves it, but because with all his imperfections he still loves his God; therefore God himself will come to his rescue in all perilous times, and will deliver him. When the heart is in love with the Lord, the Lord will recognize that love, and preserve the man who bears it in his heart.  It is love, - love set upon God, which is the distinguishing mark of those whom the Lord rescues from all forms of evil, testing and trials.

5.                 He will honor him (verse 15)

Honor (kâbêd [adjective] kbd [noun]), “I will glorify him.” I will load him with honor; that honor that comes from God. I will even show to men how highly I prize him.  More specifically it means to honor; glory; great quantity; multitude; wealth; reputation [majesty]; splendor.” They refer to the great physical weight or “quantity” of a thing. In Nahum 2:9 one should read: “For there is no limit to the treasure – a great quantity of every kind of desirable object.” Isaiah 22:24 likens Eliakim to a peg firmly anchored in a wall upon which it is hung “all the [weighty things] of his father’s house.” This meaning is required in Hosea 9:11, where kbd represents a great crowd of people or “multitude”: “As for Ephraim, their [multitude] shall fly away.” The word does not mean simply “heavy,” but a heavy or imposing quantity of things.

            When a man honors God, God will then honor the man.  God will honor them with abundance an abundance far beyond anything His children can imagine, ask or think (Ref. Ephesians 3:20-21).  Believers are not delivered or preserved in a way which lowers them, and makes them feel themselves degraded; far from it, the Lord’s salvation bestows honor upon those it delivers.  God first gives us conquering grace, and then rewards us for it.  The saint that God honors is honorable in deed.  God takes them into a covenant and communion with Himself and designs and changes them for His kingdom and for His glory.  How can anyone not be honored in that?

Saints notice what the deliverance and honoring are linked to.  The Lord will honor such that know Him, and love Him: all His saints are honored by Him, by Him taking them into His family, and giving them a name better than that of sons and daughters or of the greatest potentate; by clothing them with the righteousness of His Son; by adorning them with the graces of His Spirit; by granting them communion and fellowship with Himself, and by bringing them to His kingdom and glory.

            6.         With long life He will satisfy us (verse 16)

            There is a difference between a long life and fullness of days.  A man can die young and die in the fullness of days.  The difference is satisfaction with ones life.  A wicked or worldly man is not satisfied, no, not with long life, he still cries for more.  But he that has his treasure and heart in another world has soon had enough of this world and yearns for the world to come. The apostle Paul realized this and commented on it to the Philippians.  “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I wot not.  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you (Philippians 1:20-24).”

Another interpretation of the promise in verse 16 is put forth by Saint Bernard, who interprets this long life and satisfaction to mean Heaven.  Because, he thought nothing long had an end.  This indeed is the emphasis of heaven’s joy; those blessed souls never sin, or weep any more; they shall not only be with the Lord, but ever be with the Lord.  This is the tone in which the Scriptures give toward Heaven. 

Albert Barns has another interpretation.  He says that the literal translation of the Old Testament translates this verse as “I will satisfy him with length of days,” or until he is satisfied with life.  This interpretation implies four things.

            A.        That it is natural to desire long life.

            B.        That long life is to be regarded as a blessing (Proverbs 3:2, 16; Exodus 20:12).

            C.        That the tendency of religion is to lengthen life;  since virtue, temperance, regular industry, calmness of mind, moderation in all things, freedom from excesses in eating and drinking, to all of which religion prompts, contributes to health and to length of days.

            D.        That a time will come, even under this promised blessing of length of days, when a man will be “satisfied” with living; when he will have no strong desire to live longer; when, under the infirmities of advanced years, and under his lonely feelings from the fact that his early friends have fallen, and under the influence of a bright hope of heaven, he will feel that he has had enough of life here, and that it is better to depart to another world

            7.         He will allow us to see His salvation (verse 16)

            This is the last and greatest of all the blessings.  All saints that know the Lord have experienced the unspeakable joy of His daily presence.  We have also experienced the joy of praise, prayer, and even the joy of His protection in times of trials and His deliverance out of the same.  We have experienced the glory of His presence and the peace brought by the sound of His voice.  We have been blessed beyond words at the touch of His hand, and the depth of His love.  But none of this can compare with the unspeakable and unimaginable joy of His salvation. 

            When we leave this world and enter into His Glory we will say like Paul that he entered into paradise and heard words that are unspeakable.  Now we know in part and we see in part, we are looking through a glass dimly, but when God is revealed in all His glory and love, all will be known and we will see Him face to face.  And we will know all things, even as we are known.

            This is my prayer that your love will keep on growing more and more in full knowledge and perfect insight, so that you may be able to determine what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, having been filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11).

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